By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
OCEAN CITY — Faith Slimmer would have been long remembered for her high school career at Ocean City no matter how many goals she scored in her final game. But netting four to reach 100 for her career, well, there isn’t a much better way for the all-state talent and Rutgers University commit to put a bow on a girls soccer career that might be the best the school has ever seen.
Slimmer’s scoring prowess was only part of a Red Raiders onslaught as second-seeded Ocean City built up a 4-0 halftime lead, then tacked on five more goals in the second half to cruise to a 9-1 win over No. 4 Absegami in the South East B regional final at Carey Stadium. The Braves gained entry into the final with a dramatic win over top-seeded Millville in penalty kicks on Friday, but it was clear from the start that they were outmatched by one of the most talented and fundamentally sound programs in the state.
“It can’t get any better than that,” Slimmer said of scoring her 100th goal. “I’m super excited to go out on a note like that, and for us to get the win — we played great this whole season and we completely earned it. That win means a lot to us. I needed four goals coming in. It was a reach, but it’s something I’ve been working for all four years. My team came behind me and they wanted it just as bad as me. They helped me out, and I got it. It’s great, but as always, it’s a team effort, and I’m proud to be part of such an amazing program.”
“It’s great to play with her and I wish her well in college,” said Ocean City junior Summer Reimet. “Being able to play next to somebody with that skill is great and I know I definitely learned from her to become a better player.”
Not even three minutes in Ocean City (11-0-1) was already up 1-0 as Hope Slimmer put a ball through to her older sister, and Faith Slimmer did the rest, ripping a goal into the lower left corner from about 20 yards out. Less than seven minutes later, Reimet dribbled through a pair of Absegami defenders and deposited a shot from about 15 yards out to push the lead to 2-0. With less than six minutes to go before halftime, senior midfielder Paige Panico got in on the action, making it 3-0 with a goal from in close, and Reimet’s second goal of the day pushed the lead to 4-0 heading into halftime.
Slimmer scored a hat trick in the second half, and needed all three of those goals to get to 100 for her career, and Kamryn Chisholm and Emily Benson also added second-half tallies. Chiamaka Wokocha scored Absegami’s lone goal and Rebecca Silipena finished with 11 saves. The Braves finished the year 8-4-2.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ocean City coach Lisa Cuneo said of Slimmer finally exiting the program after four star-studded years. “She’s turned our program from just a good CAL team to state champs, and we’ve been riding her coattails. This program owes her a lot. Ever since her freshman year, she changed the persona, she changed the workload of this team, she changed the style of play we were doing. Three years later, we were state champions. Even just the speed of practice alone, she brings the energy and the skill set every day — and she brings her sisters, too. All of them, they really raise the bar. They push each other and challenge each other, and they really bring everybody up to their level.”
Faith has two younger sisters, Hope and Joy, who now carry the torch for an Ocean City team that should be just as good next year. Hope was instrumental in helping lead the Red Raiders to the program’s first state championship a year ago, and Joy is a freshman this year who logged some varsity minutes. The Red Raiders may not have gotten the chance to defend their state title this year, but they’ll take the opportunity to bring home some regional hardware in a season that was filled with uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m so proud of us. After winning the state championship, we knew that this year we’d have a target on our backs, so winning this championship is a big deal to us,” Reimet said. “Our goal for this season was to just win whatever came at the end of the season, and we did that today.”
“It’s a lot better than nothing, so we took what we got,” added Faith Slimmer. “We played our best because we knew the next game wasn’t guaranteed. Every game, we left everything on the field and played for each other.”
“This is definitely unique. I don’t know the right words to describe it. You really can’t put another note on the state championship, and having that feeling, proving that and that grind to get there, but this rebounding and living up to expectations — we played the schedule that we were given, and I think we stepped up and rose to the occasion,” Cuneo said. “We never knew if there would be a tomorrow … we just kept working, even if it was just one game a week. We took what we had and we kept our focus. We wanted to win our last game, whenever that happened to be.”
Faith Slimmer finished the year with 30 goals and 17 assists, a year after posting 35 goals and 28 assists. And for all her goal-scoring accolades, what made Slimmer so unique was the ability to set up her teammates. She finished her career with more than 50 assists.
“I couldn’t have asked for more in high school, but (scoring 100 goals) isn’t an individual thing, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my team, my sisters, my coaches and all the support we have in Ocean City,” she said.
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays